TMZ got the scoop, will it see the money?

June 29, 2009

Time Warner-owned celebrity news website TMZ may have been first in reporting the death of Michael Jackson, but is all the buzz around the site going to turn into cash?

It’s a question the LA Times asks in this article, pointing out that the Jackson scoop — the biggest in TMZ’s history — comes at a time when the TMZ’s tactics and “tabloid sensibilities” have angered publicists and government officials, made other journalists reluctant to cite TMZ, and even caused advertisers to shy away from putting their messages on the site.

In a piece last Friday, The New York Times’ Brian Stelter pointed out that even though TMZ looks good because it beat all rivals with the Jackson news, the “Jackson family said the time of death was 5:26 p.m. Eastern, several minutes after TMZ’s report, leading some to wonder whether the Web site looked accurate only in hindsight.”

TMZ editor-in-chief Harvey Levin told the Times their report was 100 percent accurate. He also said the site pays “tip fees” that lead to stories, but did not say whether they paid any sources for the Jackson news.

As the LA Times story by Scott Collins and Meg James says, one of the reasons why the site makes people — especially other reporters — uncomfortable is “a sense that TMZ is flouting not so much the law as journalistic ethics. Rivals have consistently accused Levin and company of paying for information.”

So despite the site’s record of getting big celebrity news and the claims that TMZ’s scoop represents the triumph of new media over old, it’s not immediately clear that Time Warner will begin to make a ton of money off this asset. TMZ is a joint venture between AOL and Telepictures.

Keep an eye on:

  • Microsoft wants to sell Razorfish. Who wants to buy? (Financial Times)
  • Advertising on mobile networks will take off in the next 2-3 years (Reuters)
  • Google says, we aren’t so big, really. (The New York Times)

Photo: Reuters

2 comments

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TMZ is getting a lot of free publicity out of this, more people visiting their website, resulting into higher advertising revenues.

I loved TMZ untill last night. I feel they need not partake in destroying M.J.’s children.They are inocent and greiving.

Posted by D.J.Spencer | Report as abusive